Down on the Troll Farm
or: Reddit Ridiculous
Sometimes it feels like the Universe means for you to stumble on something. That something may not always be pretty, but if you've changed your mind (or at least have serious questions by the end), the Universe has done its job.
I haven't said much about it, but I'm fan of geisha. (I was going to write "pretty passionate", but I'm not one who scours every corner of the internet looking for pictures and news about them.) Going to an ozashiki or enkai (a geisha banquet—the first is the industry term, the second is the customer term) is on my bucket list. I was talking about my bucket list with new friend K last night, mentioned Sayuki (from Australia, she was on Oprah) and went to double-check that the geisha from Saint Louis went by the artistic name Kimicho. (She did…more on that in a minute.) Since I learned about Kimicho from a YouTube series, that's where I'd gone to factcheck and happened to click on her Instagram in the process. Deleted.
Oh no! I thought. She must have resigned! (Being a geisha is such demanding work that I'm not sure very many hang on more than five years after completing the last phase of their training anymore.) So I googled "Kimicho of Yoshinoya", found the geisha subreddit, found a post confirming that she'd retired (I guess anyone in that business can retire—you don't have to have been in a certain length before changing from "resigned")…and found a nasty "public service announcement" against Sayuki.
I'm not going to go into (much) detail, and I'm certainly not going to link it—if I want that much bitchiness on my blog, I'll generate it my own self, thank you!
(I'm going to call the angry blogger "AB" in the rest of this post for the sake of simplicity, though.)
Flag of Shinagawa, where the Yoshinoya okiya is located
One of Sayuki's big "selling points" (for lack of a better term) was that when her okasan (house mother/supervisor) retired, she refused to let Sayuki inherit because she was white. (This is the first time it occurs to me that that claim makes no sense. Why would you take someone into the profession if you weren't willing to treat them the same way as everyone else?) AB says that that's not the case—Sayuki's okasan died before she finished training, and when she petitioned the kemban (geisha union/board) to take over the house, they said no. In fact, she broke the rules so many times that she was eventually kicked out. (I believe Sayuki used the "because I'm white" excuse there, too.)
Another claim AB makes is that Sayuki is lying when she says that she's the first Western geisha, as there were women from Eastern Europe who went into the profession in WWII. Em…where's your citation, AB? I've read every (modern) book on geisha (or almost all of them, and only the ones in English, since I'm neither otaku nor weaboo) and I've never heard of these women—not even in Lesley Downer's book, which goes all the way back to the courtesans of the twelfth century or so! And just because they were born outside of Asia does not make them "Westerners" in my book. If you were born in the Eastern Hemisphere, you are an Easterner, and fuck any anthropologist or other "expert" who says otherwise! (In that case, though, Sayuki would still not be the first Western geisha, as she's from Australia.)
I'm into using images to break up parts of this post, so here's the Missouri state flag!
Blah, blah, blah; negative shit, negative shit, fraud.
WHOA! Fraud? Where on Earth did you get that AB?! (She has a lot of links at the bottom of her so-called PSA, but with no in-text citations, I'm not sure what goes where.) She claims that Sayuki was arrested in New Zealand on fraud charges and "can never go back". When I read "so-and-so can never go back to [Country]", I immediately assumed that it's because they're banned, but I doubt anyone would be banned from a country for fraud unless it was a major scandal like Enron or something. So again with the making Sayuki seem worse than she is, as I assume that Little Miss Angry Blogger actually means "can't go back unless she wants to go to jail". (I should point out that when Person A says Person B got kicked out of somewhere, I hesitate. Someone once told me that a friend of mine got deported from Brazil because he didn't have a "performer's permit"—or whatever—and Friend told me later that that never happened.)
As if that wasn't enough, AB bragged about her and her friends trolling Sayuki on reddit.
(Cue me doing a, "Yeah, that's real classy!" eye roll.)
Apparently Sayuki tried to do an AMA (ask me anything) twice? (I read it late last night and was annoyed the whole time, so I can't tell you how much I retained.) AB crowed that she and her little buddies "shut her down. Hard" both times. The second time, they were so vicious that reddit closed the thread early. AB seems to think that that's a sign of how stupid/how much of a scammer Sayuki is, but I think it's a sign of everyone in attendance being bitchy little brats! (I've been to a few AMAs and most people don't spend their time bullying the guest—or if they do, reddit is the one that "shuts them down", and quickly.)
Contrary to what the r/geisha mods seem to believe, bragging about cyber harassment is not the way to encourage new members to join you, regardless of whether you feel someone is a scammer, an internet stalker, or whatever. The mods can say that they don't condone trolling, but if you post a link (as an "announcement") to a blog where someone boasts about mistreating someone else, then yes, you certainly do approve, however tacitly.
I'll let my response to them say the rest:
I was going to become a member of this community, but when you promote a post where someone brags about all of you trolling someone on here, the idea died. Fast.
I don't care if Sayuki/FG+ is a fraud—you don't attract people by saying how “awesome” it is that you were able to troll her to death. Trolling doesn't fix anything, and it sure as hell doesn't attract new members to your subreddit. If anything, they're going to be like me—afraid that they'll have their knowledge questioned (even though they've read every book ever published on the subject), afraid they'll be treated like crap because they're American, etcetera.
Lest you think I'm siding with FG, I should point out that that post—nasty though it may be—gave me Serious Questions about her and what she's doing. But as I've made clear, I'm not going to side with you, either.
(*steps back and waits for the inevitable insults that come with randomly picking "East Tiger" as her handle*)
+"FG" is Fiona Graham, Sayuki's legal name. Also, my handle wasn't randomly picked, but they don't need to know that.
By the way: that bullshit AB (and the mod) posted about Sayuki being "fake" is just that—bullshit.
So she didn't finish training. A lot of people start acting without a degree or even having taken classes—look at the Harry Potter kids! (I know this comes off as callous, but I get the idea that classes are what actors do in between roles to fill the time. Thank you, television.)
So she's not with a geisha house or union. Saying that makes her fake is like saying an actor is fake because he isn't with SAG-AFTRA, Equity, or a theatre group (if he's in the minor leagues).
In the words of the legendary Geico commercial:
AB and her buddies can't even argue that Sayuki is taking away business. A true "expert" would probably feel the same way as AB et al. and not request Sayuki or her apprentices for their enkai. A tourist (or even an unconnected local) can't host their own enkai—however small—because of the old ichigen san kotowari ("the first time customer is refused"). It's not cool for Sayuki to harass Angry Blogger and others (if that's even true), but the same goes for the other side. Sayuki should serve the tourists and the snooty geisha fans should ignore her—that's it. No more snipping.
(my name in katakana)